THE STAR

22

www.thestar.co.uk Wednesday, April 7, 2021

NEWS

Council vote

TheAMRCattheAdvancedManufacturingParkisoneofour‘localsuccesses’

‘Committee model simply isn’t
up to the task’ - business leader
Henri Murison
Director of the Northern Powerhouse
Partnership

few weeks ago, John
Lewis announced it
would be closing its
Sheffield store.
Iknowwhatthehistoryof
ColeBrothersmeanstopeopleinthiscity.WhileSheffield’sregenerationisonthe
up–thanksinlargepartto
independentbusinesses–itis
stillcrucialthereisadestinationtodrawpeopletothe
heartofthecity.
InMay,voterswillbeasked
tochoosebetweenkeeping
thecurrentcabinetandleader
councilmodelorgoingbackto
acommitteesystem.
Forthoseofusworkingto
buildaprosperous,produc-

A

tiveNorthernPowerhouse,it
isarealworry.Weneedtoput
Sheffieldontheglobalmap.
Acommitteesystemwould
crippleSheffieldpolitically
andeconomically,weakeningitsabilitytomakestrategic,long-termdecisionsand
dilutingitscapacitytoaffect
realchangeforlocalpeople.
Suchasystemwouldn’tstand
achanceincompetingfor
publicandprivateinvestment
againsttheeffectiveleadershipmodelsinSheffield’s
neighbours,Manchesterand
Leeds.
Aswestarttobuildarecovery,pressureisgrowingto
takeamoreambitiousstance
towardsnetzerowhilesecuringeconomicgrowth,through
localsuccessessuchasthe
AMRCattheAdvancedManufacturingPark.

Acommitteemodelsimply
isn’tuptothetask.
WeallwatchedthenotoriousHandforthParishCouncil
meeting.Wealllaughedatthe
pettyinfightingandridiculouspoliticalgame-playing.
Butthisisexactlywhatawaits
Sheffield,shouldacommittee
replacethecurrentsystem.
Iworrythatbusinesseswill
notchoosetoinvestinacity
wherethey’reunsureofthe
futuredirectionoftravel.
Nothingunderminesconfidencemorequicklythanuncertaintyandarockypolitical
systemcouldtriggeramass
exodusinprivateinvestment
leavingthecity.
Jobs,investment,livelihoodsareatallatriskshould
voterschoosethismoment
–aswemakethefirststeps
towardsaCovidrecovery–

tooverhaulthecounciland
throwSheffield’slocalgovernmentintoconfusionand
chaos.
Beforetheadoptionofthe
LocalismActin2011,councils
couldonlychoosebetween
‘leaderandcabinet’and‘electedmayorandcabinet’models.
Since2012,however,localauthoritieshavebeenabletoopt
foracommitteesystem.
Greatnorthernerand
formerleaderofNewcastleCouncilLordBeecham
warnedagainstsuchasystem,
cautioningitwouldusherina
waveofnimbyism,fragmentedstrategyandineffective
governancethatwouldkeep
powerfirmlyinthehandsof
centralgovernment.
Sincethen,justahandful
ofplaceshavechosentorevert
tothecommitteemodel.They

are,byandlarge,small,provincialbackwaters,focused
onsmall,provincialissues.
Bincollectionistopof
theagendaatcommitteeledBasildonCouncil.While
undoubtedlyanissuethat
requiresattention,ournortherncitiesneedtoaddressthe
morepressingissuesthathold
backeconomicgrowth,such
asthisnewspaper’srecent
campaigntoensureeverychildhadaccesstotechnologytolearnfromhome.
Sheffielddeservesbetter.
Thecityhashugepotential:a
young,ambitiousworkforce
aswellasvastexpertisein
manufacturing,greenenergy
andtechnology.
Thereisarealopportunitytocapitaliseonthese
assetsthroughcontinued
investmentinregeneration,

includinginskills,R&Dand
redevelopmentofthecity
centre.
Itcouldunlockbillionsin
growth,turningSheffieldand
thewiderregionintoahugely
powerfuleconomicengine
andcreatingthousandsof
well-paidjobsforlocalcommunities.
We’realreadyseeinghuge
stridesbeingtakenbyeffectiveandempoweredlocal
leaderssuchasDanJarvisas
MetroMayorintheSheffield
CityRegion.Aswellasplans
foran£860mRenewalFund,
hehasthenecessarypowerstofollowinfootstepsof
GreaterManchesterbytaking
controloverthebusnetwork.
AstrongleaderinSheffield
meansastrongvoiceforthe
citywithinthecombinedauthority,drivinggrowthacross